Global & Disaster Medicine

Illnesses on the rise from mosquito, tick, and flea bites

CDC

Overview

Almost everyone has been bitten by a mosquito, tick, or flea. These can be vectors for spreading pathogens (germs). A person who gets bitten by a vector and gets sick has a vector-borne disease, like dengue, Zika, Lyme, or plague. Between 2004 and 2016, more than 640,000 cases of these diseases were reported, and 9 new germs spread by bites from infected mosquitoes and ticks were discovered or introduced in the US. State and local health departments and vector control organizations are the nation’s main defense against this increasing threat. Yet, 84% of local vector control organizations lack at least 1 of 5 core vector control competencies. Better control of mosquitoes and ticks is needed to protect people from these costly and deadly diseases.

State and local public health agencies can

  • Build and sustain public health programs that test and track germs and the mosquitoes and ticks  that spread them.
  • Train vector control staff on 5 core competencies for conducting prevention and control activities.  http://bit.ly/2FG1OMwExternal
  • Educate the public about how to prevent bites and control germs spread by mosquitoes, ticks,  and fleas in their communities.
Problem

Increasing threat, limited capacity to respond

More cases in the US (2004-2016)

  • The number of reported cases of disease from mosquito, tick, and flea bites has more than tripled.
  • More than 640,000 cases of these diseases were reported from 2004 to 2016.
  • Disease cases from ticks have doubled.
  • Mosquito-borne disease epidemics happen more frequently.

More germs (2004-2016)

  • Chikungunya and Zika viruses caused outbreaks in the US for the first time.
  • Seven new tickborne germs can infect people in the US.

More people at risk

  • Commerce moves mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas around the world.
  • Infected travelers can introduce and spread germs across the world.
  • Mosquitoes and ticks move germs into new areas of the US, causing more people to be at risk.

The US is not fully prepared

    • Local and state health departments and vector control organizations face increasing demands to respond to these threats.
    • More than 80% of vector control organizations report needing improvement in 1 or more of 5 core competencies, such as testing for pesticide resistance.
    • More proven and publicly accepted mosquito and tick control methods are needed to prevent and control these diseases.

Graphic: Disease cases from infected mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas have tripled in 13 years

Graphic: Disease cases from mosquitoes (2004-2016, reported)

Graphic: Disease cases from ticks (2004-2016, reported)


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